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In Cole County's primary election, the youngest group of eligible voters shunned the polls like no other.

Just 2.7 percent of 18- to 21-year-olds voted. Even the 85 and older group topped that.

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Voter turnout low among Cole County's youth

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So why aren't youths voting, and what can we do about it?

A new Gallup poll shows one-third of youth are unsure whether their state has online voter registration. Yet that same poll shows 79 percent of young people said the coronavirus pandemic has helped them realize how much political leaders' decisions impact their lives.

As we recently reported, Cole County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer expects more young voters to turn out for the Nov. 3 general election, when the president and governor's races will be decided; he expects an overall turnout of 70 percent or more this November. In the 2016 presidential election, Cole County had a voter turnout of 71 percent, with 37,981 ballots cast.

"Are we as older adults not conveying to the younger generation the importance of voting?" asked Penny Quigg, Cole County Republican Central Committee chair.

The duties of citizenship shouldn't just be relegated to schools, she said. Parents need to step up and teach their children themselves, she said.

Josh Dunne, Cole County Democratic Central Committee chair, said his committee has to work hard to impress on younger voters that it's up to them to show politicians they need to pay attention to issues that are important to the younger generation.

They often believe they aren't being heard and that their vote doesn't matter.

Here at the News Tribune, we've worked hard to try to not only dispute that notion but to arm readers young and old with the information they need to make their own voting decisions.

We'll continue to do that, and we urge parents to regularly talk with their children about politics and government and the civic responsibility of voting. A representative Democracy can only work if it has representation from its citizenship.

News Tribune

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